No Valhalla For Pacifists

Joined: April 6th, 2009, 5:22 pm

November 5th, 2010, 2:51 am #1

((Dominic Stratford continued from If That Looking Glass Gets Broke))

There was pain.

This was one of the things Dominic knew. He was not particularly surprised that it was there, but he was surprised at how much it affected him. He had been in pain before, of course. Up until now he might have said the worst was falling out of a tree at seven and breaking his arm, an easily-repaired greenstick fracture that netted him a cast covered in signatures and a healthy respect for heights. And he was no stranger to scratches and bites that came from working with stressed and frantic cats, savaging his fingers as he tried to force pills down their throats or clean wounds. Then, since being on the island, there was the meeting of Phil's fist and his face. That had been painful, made worse by the unexpected shock of the blow.

But this was different.

He had tried to catalog it as he dragged himself along the ground, fingers slipping in the thick leaf mold that covered the heaps of bones. Clavicles, femurs, metacarpals all forming a slippery mass underneath him which rolled and slid as he tried to crawl over it. Now, in a heap at the bottom of a tree, he thought it was beyond proper description, a living thing gnawing his insides, waiting for him to surrender to it. Even lifting his head hurt, breathing a savage agony, each twitch of his limbs sending pain radiating upwards into his chest.

He had been hurt badly. He knew that much. Ribs shifted and grated inside of his chest, and he thought dimly that one might have punctured a lung. Blood dripped continually from his nose and mouth, thick and clotted from the sockets of missing teeth, bright and frothy from the coughing fits that occasionally sent black spirals into his vision. He had vomited twice, both times bringing up thin crimson liquid to splash on the ground and mix with what was already there. At one point he had pissed himself, not realizing until he smelled the familiar sharp acidic scent, but the urine staining his pants was clouded pink. What little he could still feel from his legs was the painfully tight feel of his pants constricting his left knee (swollen more than three times its size) and pressing the splinters of kneecap against the skin. He could not see out of one eye, and continually blinked blood from the other.

He was not sure how long he had been lying by the tree. Certainly time had passed, and he could see the moon beginning to show in the gathering darkness, Venus winking merrily from her familiar place in the sky, the constellations a starry skull, recognizable as his own. His breath caught, choking him for a moment before he was finally able to drag in a painful lung's worth of oxygen. It had been happening more and more. He wondered what would happen when he couldn't fight through it any more.

A pool of sticky saliva, mixed with ruby threads, was collecting under his lips. With great effort he rolled himself away, the movement threatening to send him into oblivion. It took long moments for the spots to clear from his vision, but when they did, he was looking at the dark-eyed figure of his sister.

Abigail sat in front of him, arms wrapped around her bare legs. He could see gooseflesh rising on her arms, and tried to stretch out, to touch her, to offer comfort. His hand barely fluttered, the pain warning him that if he tried again it would rise, engulf him, swallow him in desperation. He blinked tears away from his one good eye, tried to smile. His scabbed lips split under the strain.

"Abby." He was surprised at how much talking hurt. He had to force the words out of hbis mouth, and it felt like they scraped raw over his throat. "What're you...doing here?"

She looked up, resting her chin on her knees. It had always looked like an uncomfortable position, but she was surprisingly flexible. He'd teased her about it - how many times? Too many. "I thought you were going to take care of me." Her voice was sullen, grumpy. She glowered at him over her jeans. Her face was torn, great gaping flaps of skin hanging down over the clean white bone. Maggots squirmed in her cheeks.

"I tried." He caught his breath, searched for the words. God, he was tired. So tired. Just a little rest here wouldn't hurt, surely? Abby could watch him. "Abs, I'll look after you, I promise, I just...I need to rest." He coughed. It was wet. Something dripped from his lips. "I need some time."

"You're dying." The words were poisonous, vindictive. She sounded exactly like she did at home when she wasn't allowed to do something she had her heart set on. "Alexander Seymour beat the ever-loving crap out of you and now you're dying and you can't take care of me when you're dead!"

"That's not true." The vehement words left him choking for a moment before he regained his breath. "I'm not...Abigail, I can't be...I just need to sleep. That's all."

"You're fucking falling apart." She didn't sound like little Abby anymore. Her face was twisted with anger, and when she uncrossed her legs and bounded to her feet he could see the metal collar winking at her throat. "You made a promise and you broke it. You said you'd never do that. You said. Why didn't you fight back?" Dark, oozing matter dropped from her lips in heavy plops. Her jeans were torn at the crotch, handprint bruises marching up her side. Pus ran from the needle tracks in her arms. Everything he'd dreamed about. Everything he'd promised would never happen.

"I couldn't..." His voice broke, and this time it was the fault of the bruises littering his skin. He could feel messy tears sliding down his face, tasting like copper where they crept into his mouth. "I couldn't fight...Abs, you know that, I've never...I would never...I'm not that kind of..."

"There's no Valhalla for pacifists, idiot. You let yourself get killed and now he's going to go off and kill someone else because you just weren't good enough. You could've been a hero. You're a fucking joke."

"No!" Dominic surged forwards, trying to get to her, but his body couldn't support his weight any longer. He hit the dirt with a gasp, curling defensively around his midsection, reaching out towards the blurred figure of his sister. "That's not...I couldn't have..." She turned away, her hair swishing, and he pulled himself another inch forwards. "I don't want to die, I don't...Abby, please!"

She turned back.

But it wasn't Abby anymore. Philip Ward stood there, eyes glittering. There was a gun held loosely in his fingers, and two severed heads - Tiffany and Abigail - hung from his belt like grisly trophies Dominic might see in an old cowboys and Indians movie on late-night TV.

The breath went out of Dominic like he had been punched, sending him arching into the ground, moaning softly. "No," he muttered, and then louder, louder, "no, no, no, no no no no..."

Phil smiled cruelly, casually tossing the gun from hand to hand. He stood tauntingly just out of reach, a mocking tone layered over his words. "That's right, little man. Game over. You're dead." He pointed the gun at Dominic through a haze of red, miming a trigger pull. "Bang."

The heads swayed over his hips. Empty eyes stared accusingly, mouths slightly open. Their blood painted Phil's body, like he had rolled in it. Their teeth and fingernails formed a necklace. In his chest, Dominic's heart fluttered, beating erratically. And Phil stood there, taunting, accusing, the symbol of every time Dominic had failed alive and well in front of him.


Abigail had been right.

There was no more time for pacifism. He didn't want to die. He couldn't die. He didn't care how it happened, not anymore. He was going to live.

He was going to live.

Dominic bared his teeth and dragged in a huge breath of air, riding high above the pain, using it to push himself upright onto his hands and knees. Bone and cartilage made unpleasant noises, but he ignored them. "You're wrong! You're WRONG. I'm not dead! I'm not!"

Phil's face shifted, melted, reformed. Wispy blond hair and slightly mismatched eyes stared back at Dominic, Alexander's face wearing Phil's expressions. His lips curled. "So prove it." There was something wrong about his voice. It sounded like the one on the announcements, all crackling static and slightly awkward accent. He took a step forward, close enough for Dom to touch, but the fire ripping through his body meant that he couldn't lift his hands from the ground. "If you play the game, you live. If you don't, you die. And right now, I'm afraid you're pretty firmly in the latter category." The gun was in his hands again, flipped around to point at Dom. The hole at the end of the barrel was like an eye, watching him, judging him. Alexander's finger rested on the trigger.

This time it would not be a joke

That final realization sent a last explosive burst of adrenaline through Dominic's system. He pushed hard, heaving himself up onto his feet, staggering forwards with his arms outstretched. No weapons, but he didn't need weapons. He could grab the gun. Or he could kill Alexander with his bare hands, rip him apart, take his life to feed his own.

His remaining useable eye was filmed over completely, now, made unusable by the cuts from his broken glasses which still dripped down his face. It didn't matter. He didn't need to see. For blissful seconds there was no pain, just fury, white-hot and encompassing, blotting Dominic out from all he'd ever known and believed in.

"I'll kill you! I'll kill you! I'll kill you I'll kill you I'LL KILL YOU ALL I'LL KILL YOU A-"


In the gathering dusk, an owl called. Fieldmice, comforted by the absence of voices, snuck out of their burrows and scented the air curiously. A fly, disoriented in the dark, struck gold as it landed its bumbling flight on the half-open eye of what had once been a boy and was now simply a messy gathering of flesh and bone.

It walked sideways, crab-like, until it reached the open mouth. Perching on a loosened tooth, it bent towards the last stream of blood running from an open nostril and began to feed.

marc st. yves
light it up or burn it down we'll all die in fire
{food for thought}

phineas rosario
fall down seven times stand up eight
sebastian conway
can't see the forest for the trees
{book of sparrows}
(so you've got to keep in mind, when you try to change the world for the better not everybody's gonna be on your side)